Monday, November 5

We Saved You a Plate: Recipe Edition

Photo by Marion Post (Wolcott), 1940. Courtesy of the Library of Congress
"We Saved You a Plate" is a weekly series showcasing an article from Gravy or Cornbread Nation, or a past symposium presentation, or a film. We serve it up, you gulp it down.

You can literally gulp down this week's installment, because it's a recipe for vegetable soup. Here in Oxford it's chilly and grey, and most of us in the office have some form of the sniffles. By 5:30, it will be totally dark. You must fight the urge to go to bed at 6! Instead, fix your fam this soup from Hal and Mal's in Jackson, Mississippi. It's a favorite among SFA staffers: one of us made the soup for her family last week, and another followed suit last night.

Vegetable Soup
(From The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, UGA Press, 2010.)  

Every day Hal White makes a soup from scratch at his neighborhood restaurant and bar in downtown Jackson. His waitstaff tries to guess the ingredients of his flavorful and intricate soups. This is quite a challenge because Hal's soup theory is from the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink school. What's so Southern about vegetable soup? Just check Hal's ingredient list for that most favored of Atlanta, Georgia, products: Coca-Cola.

Feel free to throw in a ham bone or some stew meat if you want a richer, meatier soup, but no matter how you tweak it, be sure to serve it with some hot, crispy cornbread.

Makes 2 quarts, or 8 servings
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried dill
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp paprika
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups v8 juice
1 or 2 good glugs of Coca-Cola (about 1/3 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 cup chopped potatoes
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
4 cups assorted chopped vegetables (such as snap beans, peas, corn, butterbeans, carrots, okra)
Salt and ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until they soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the seasoned salt, basil, oregano, marjoram, dill, red pepper flakes, allspice, and paprika; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in the stock, wine, juice, and Coke and cook for 1 minute, stirring up any bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the parsley, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, mushrooms, and assorted vegetables. Bring just to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, partially covered, until all of the vegetables are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

-Hal White of Jackson, Mississippi